The Power of the Word

I love words, and I always have.

Whilst pregnant; my mother swallowed Agatha Christie and James Herriot and Ogden Nash, sending their formatted prose intra-umbilically to my formatting body. After I was out and able to lay still; the fare included A Child’s Garden of Verses, Shel Silverstein, Ramona Quimby, and Twig. Once literate by my own merits (and from my mother’s example); I devoured Laura Ingalls Wilder, Arabian Nights, Bruce Coville, and Anthem.

I vowed to read every book ever written. I thought my goal an attainable one.

In the meantime, my literary diet supplemented my grammatical learning. Unlike many writers, I do not have a degree in the craft. My teachers were Charlotte Brontë, Mary Shelley, and Douglas Adams. They taught me by example and expanded my lexicon to precocious measures.

In this way, I blame them for my problem.

I love words and am not afraid of them. I play with adjectives, verbs, and nouns like a small child with a treasure chest of his favorite playthings. Yes, I sometimes smash them together and finger paint a Jackson Pollock-worthy story. Yes, I sometimes roll terms into shapes like Play-Doh and end up with noun-verbs and adjective-nouns.

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Every now and then I step back from my mishmash meter, sigh with contentment, and behold a magnificent mural.

Between times, however, my words have a tendency to cause mischief. I’ve used strong words to accurately describe my feelings, and inaccurate words in feeling ways. I’ve intentionally poked and stabbed to incite a reaction. A handful of times, I have drawn on The Power of Words to move a people to action.

I am, naturally, a novice at wordweaving. I worry at trying a spell when I haven’t passed all the levels. I tell myself not to dabble until I become a master.

I have also ticked some people off.

And yet, I cannot stay away. The bubbling brew of prosaic verse simmers warmly, invitingly, lovingly. Come hither, it tempts, I will not harm thee

What say ye, wordspellers? How do words speak to you, how do you listen, and how (in turn) do you release the power that builds as you chant your incantations?

—————

We’ve crafted for another week. Here’s what I created:
Wednesday, February 20: Is Harry Potter a good book? Read what I thought and what many insightful comments determined in “To Potter or Not to Potter?
Thursday, February 21: “The Cure for Depression: Don’t Be Hatin’ on Medicatin’,” another suggestion in a series originally posted over at The Bipolar Writer Mental Health Blog.
Friday, February 22: Winner of the Weekly Terribly Poetry Contest. Congratulations to Peregrine Arc!
Saturday, February 23: Announced the 14th Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest. We’re doing parodies of pop songs. PLEASE ENTER!
Sunday
, February 24: “Dot on the Brown,” my poem response to the famous Frank Prem’s “speck on the blue.”
Monday, February 25: “Wilhelmina Winters, Eighty-Three.”
Tuesday, February 26:  An inspirational quote by Maya Angelou. Smile at home, everyone.
Also, noted that I now have 500 Followers! Thanks again, everyone!!
Wednesday, February 27: Today‘s post.

I also posted all this week at my motherhood site. My favorite (and the internet’s) was my poem, “A Poem About Socks.”

And, I wrote a piece for Kids are the Worst titled “12 Fun and Easy Cabin Fever Fixes.” Don’t worry; there’s plenty of my good, old-fashioned sarcasm to keep things interesting.

 

Photo Credit:
Amaury Salas

52 thoughts on “The Power of the Word

  1. One doesn’t need a degree to be a writer, all you have to write and learn from the great authors, past and present. What is helpful is getting a degree in something that’ll land you a job so you can sustain yourself whilst you continue the writing habit. I wish I had. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Noun-verbs and adjective-nouns is all part of being an American writer? 😁

    It’s only recently that I’ve joined in with these flash fiction prompts and these have changed the way I write. I hardly ever read over what I’d written before; now, I edit and rewrite more.
    And, although I’m old school, I pay attention to the new idea that readers’ attention spans have contracted since the internet was unleashed. 😮

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oy! The attention spans!

      I do some paid work now and then and am very mindful of the 1.5-second (shrinking) window of attention in viewers.

      Thanks for sharing about flash fiction as well. I felt like a murderer the first times I participated, and now find (for jobs) I write too little for their word count. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I always like the term (which applied to my situation for 50 years or so) of “Playwright”. It’s not Playwrite” but someone who hammers things into shape – a word wright. Words are the metal. The wrighter is the hammer.
    Also, it is no coincidence that the term Logos is applied to God – “In the beginning was the Word…” Words create and destroy. Thanks for the thought-provoking posting!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I liked this – my mother liked to read, too, and her enthisiasm spilled into me.

    As far as my craft goes, I also don’t have a related degree. I think part of why I can find poetry so daunting is that an idea might not fit your space constrains or meter scheme. In prose, you rarely have to deal with all those elements. I like to think of big ideas first, then craft around them.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Because my background is in the hard sciences, I look at words as multi-dimensional building blocks capable of not only conveying primary meaning but secondary as well. The number of syllables and the starting letters are also important. It’s a lot like being an architect… unless you are employed, then it is nothing like being an architect.

    My influences are Herman Melville because infinitely detailed description is underrated. James Joyce, because he understood the multidimensionality of words; and, Haruki Murakami because he is bat-crap crazy…

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I relate with many things you say here. Even I was once naive (sorry I dunno how to put the umlaut on i) enough to believe that it was possible to read every book ever written.

    And I totally agree with the grammar part- I’ve seen many kids rattling off the rules of sentence formation, direct-indirect speech, active-passive voice, et cetera, et cetera and trying to hammer them into their heads. I’ve seen people trying to mug up grammatical terms. To this day, I remain ignorant of such rules and terms. If you ask me today what an intransitive verb is or what a genitive case is, I will not know. But grammatical errors have never been a problem for me. Most of the times, I can intuitively tell whether something is grammatically correct or not. I pity those who try to mug up grammar- I mean, go and read a book, will you? Get a feel for the language- that’s more important.

    I know this comment is too long but I’m not sorry. After all, as you so accurately say, we’re all ‘wordspellers’ here.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Haha 😀

        Well, I am an Indian, so it would be wrong if I wasn’t 😉
        But conversational Hindi is quite different from literary Hindi. Conversational Hindi is a mishmash of Hindi, Urdu, English and a bit of Punjabi slang sometimes. Every Indian’s fluent in that. But literary(commonly called ‘shuddh’ or pure) Hindi- that’s a different ball game. Most people(including me) have a bit of trouble with that, since it’s not used in daily life. So while writing compositions in the language, I sometimes DO have to look up some fancy words, but I guess that happens to almost everyone with almost every language.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. So well crafted as usual and I too was introduced to the written word, not by classroom, but by the authors themselves. Books took me to places in my mind I never thought existed, saved me in moments, and taught me all at the same time. Hence my love for words.

    No degree here either, just a thirst to learn and weave away.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I love this post, Chelsea. Another word-smith. I wish I was better at word-making, transforming them into new forms. The books I most enjoy are the ones that make the words delightful in and of themselves while adding richness to a story. Happy Writing!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I grew up as the granddaughter of a college English professor, raised by the daughter of a college English professor, so early on things got drummed into me. Maybe for that reason, like one of your other Commenters, I just ‘kind of know’ if something is right or wrong grammatically by how it sounds in my head. My Freshman English professor walked across campus with me arguing that I needed to know the rules, not just do it correctly. I finally realized we’d have to disagree on that point.

    I’m subscribed to Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day, and they send me an email with a word – sometimes one I know and sometimes one I don’t. Surprisingly often I find that words don’t mean quite what I think they mean (based on how I’ve always heard them used). I also like that they give an etymology of the words when known.

    Your playing around with making new word forms is great, and part of creativity. If done correctly, the reader still know what you mean even if the word isn’t one they’re used to seeing. When I have done beta reading for other authors and they use a word in what seems to be an incorrect way, I look it up. Sometimes they just are using the wrong word, but sometimes I can find a second or third definition that makes it work. If there’s any argument that can be made for its usage, I don’t flag it. I like to see people go a little outside the box and find new ways to express things.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for sharing your perspective. Since I am one who finds memorizing rules and forms a daunting challenge, I’m on your side of the grammar debate.

      Case in point: I find a huge mental block to learning another language because I feel I need to grasp all the rules. If I could just go over to the country and LIVE in it, I think I’d do fine.

      Word-play is fun, but you definitely need to know what you’re doing. Sometimes when I am writing I put a word in …and I realize it’s not quite right. Thank goodness for the dictionary and thesaurus; I am often thinking of a word that sounds similarly. Even then, I find I’m going off when I read a similar use in another writer.

      Like

      • I once worked for a man who consistently misspelled ‘separate’ in his handwritten letters that I had to type up. So I routinely corrected it. One day, as I was rereading over a letter I had typed something felt ‘wrong’ about it, though I didn’t immediately see what. Turned out, for the first time ever, he actually spelled ‘separate’ correctly, but my subconscious knew he always misspelled it so I just changed it without thought. I had typed it ‘seperate’!

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Chelsea this was beautifully crafted and masterfully written. I give you an A+ . You learned your skills from the best. Charlotte Bronte alone would be as viable as a masters in English Literature. (Although I personally favor Emily). I know many people with credentials who don’t have your talent. A true writer is one who writes. Some of those people have a gift others don’t. But a true writer has a need to write. You my dear, have both talent and a desire to write. You have earned the title writer.

    Liked by 1 person

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